Austin Rolfer: Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is one of the number one reasons people come to see me at My Rolfing office here in Austin, TX.  People have pain on the front of their shoulder, the back of their shoulder, deep in the glenohumeral joint, and along the border of the scapula just to name a few places.  Often there is no pain when the arm is at their side, but pain comes when they lift their arm above their head or try to reach behind their back.

The shoulder is an incredibly complicated structure.  There are tons of soft tissue structures pulling at it from many different angles and if just one is injured or not doing its job it can affect the tensional balance of the whole structure.  Then you’ve got muscles trying to do the job of other muscles and they get overworked.

Another issue you can run into is that nerves can get compressed when the shoulder tensions are off.  There are quite a few nerves that come out of the neck that send branches down into the arm to communicate with the arm structures.  The nerves weave in between soft tissue structures that are in close proximity to one another.  When tensions are off around the shoulder angles of the tissues change and the spaces that the nerves run through can get compressed and bruise or injure the nerve.   Suddenly, you’ve got pain.

So you’ve got pain, now what do you do about it?  1st off, make sure and continue to use your arm and shoulder.  There can be a tendency to stop using a joint if it hurts.  This makes sense on the surface level, except you’re doing more harm than good.  You’ll lose flexibility and decrease blood flow to the affected area which mitigates your body’s ability to deliver nutrients to the damaged area and move out toxic tissue.   Staying mobile is important.

At my Rolfing practice I look at shoulder pain from as many possible angles that I can.  Are there nerves that are compressed?  Are there muscles that are not doing their job?  Are the ligaments too tight and not elastic enough?  Are there arteries that are being compressed?  Is this an issue where the client has a poor work set up or are they too repetitive in their motions?  These are just a few of the questions that I look at when addressing shoulder pain.  All of which I can address with my work.  I work to bring balance back to the tissues throughout the shoulder so that they are all doing their job and are mobile enough to adapt to the stresses you put upon them every day.  I work to free up compressed nerves and arteries so that they can do their job.  Lastly, I work to educate the client on better ways to move and work to make sure the shoulder stays healthy and pain free in the future.

Click Here for a short video that demonstrates one of my favorite exercises to do for keeping shoulder mobility.

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